32 Great Vacation Reads For Your Spring Break
Olivia Taylor (she/her) is a writer, self-proclaimed reality TV buff and uses "Real Housewives" references unironically. Her camera roll is filled with Twitter screenshots and she will definitely talk your ear off for as long as you will let her. Find more of her pop culture ramblings just about anywhere on the internet.
Look, we love a good vacation getaway, but every book lover knows you've got to pack at least a few good books to read when you're on the way to your destination, on the beach, or finding a few moments of solitude away from the fam. There's nothing like escaping into a book world when you're lounging in your favorite bathing suit. If you need some titles to add to your travel book bucket list, look no further than the recs below.
P.S. Staying home this spring, but wish you weren't? Don't worry, we've included some transportive stories, too.
A Special Place for Womenby Laura Hankin ($5+)
It’s a club like no other. Only the most important women receive an invitation to join the ranks of New York's elite, in a group shrouded in secrecy. That is, until journalist Jillian Beckley decides she's going to break in. With her career in freefall, Jillian needs a juicy scoop, and she has a personal interest in bringing these women down. But the deeper she gets into this new world—where billionaire "girlbosses" mingle with occult-obsessed Bohemians—the more Jillian learns that bad things happen to those who dare to question the club's motives or giggle at its outlandish rituals. These women may be far more powerful than she ever imagined. And far more dangerous too.
Unscripted: The Epic Battle for a Media Empire and the Redstone Family Legacyby Rachel Abrams and James B. Stewart ($17+)
If you love Succession, this book might be for you. This novel follows the shocking (and very real) inside story of the struggle for power and control at Paramount Global, the multibillion-dollar entertainment empire controlled by the Redstone family, and the dysfunction, misconduct, and deceit that threatened the future of the company, from the Pulitzer Prize–winning journalists who first broke the news.
Romantic Comedy: A Novel by Curtis Sittenfeld ($14+)
Romance AND humor... what more do you need?! Sally Milz is a sketch writer for a late-night live comedy show. With a couple of heartbreaks under her belt, she’s long abandoned the search for love. But when Sally’s friend and fellow writer Danny Horst, who is average looking at best, begins dating a glamorous actress who guest-hosted the show, Sally writes a sketch poking fun at the couple while underscoring how unlikely it is that an average looking woman would be in a relationship with a drop-dead gorgeous man. Enter Noah Brewster, a smoking hot pop star guest hosting Sally's show. Dazzled by his charms, sparks fly between Sally and Noah instantly. But this isn’t a romantic comedy—it’s real life. And in real life, someone like him would never date someone like her . . . right?
Stone Cold Fox by Rachel Koller Croft ($15+)
Bea is an ambitious woman. She has spent her entire life learning the art of conning men alongside her mother, which has prepared her to choose her ultimate target. Enter Collin Case, a filthyrich, though thoroughly dull, man Bea is determined to win over. The challenge isn’t getting the ring, but rather the approval of Collin’s family and everyone else in their 1 percent tax bracket, particularly his childhood best friend, Gale Wallace-Leicester. Going toe-to-toe with Gale isn’t a threat to an expert like Bea, but what begins as an amusing cat-and-mouse game quickly develops into a dangerous pursuit of the grisly truth. Finding herself at a literal life-and-death crossroads with everything on the line, Bea must finally decide who she really wants to be.
Please Don't Sit on my Bed in Your Outside Clothes: Essaysby Phoebe Robinson ($13+)
Get ready to laugh, cry, learn and wonder with this incredible read. Phoebe Robinson is an actress, producer, comedian and New York Times bestselling author sharing her perspective on performative allyship, white guilt, what happens when white people take up space in cultural movements. She explores what it’s like to be a woman who doesn’t want kids in a society that desires the contrary, and how “self-care” for mental health usually requires disposable money. From stories about meeting Michelle Obama to the stupidly fake reassurances of zip-line attendants, her favorite things about dating a white person from the UK, and how the lack of Black women in leadership positions fueled her to become the Black lady boss of her dreams, you will undoubtedly find something to relate to with Phoebe's refreshing authenticity.
Other Books To Read In 2023
Acts of Violet by Margarita Montimore ($14+)
The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith ($13+)
Greta is in between the death of her mother and the launch of her second album when she falls apart on stage. The viral footage puts her career at a standstill, and when Greta agrees to go with her father on the Alaskan cruise that was supposed to be her parents' anniversary trip, she finds herself drawn to historian Ben, who's also dealing with a major life change.
The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill ($7+)
It's a normal day at the library, until a woman's scream cuts through the reading room. As the guards attempt to contain the threat, four strangers strike up a conversation to pass the time. It's just a coincidence that these unlikely friends happened to be at the same table, but less of a coincidence? The fact that one of them is the murderer.
Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey ($14+)
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus ($15+)
It's the early '60s and chemist Elizabeth is working on an all-male team at Hastings Research Institute. Everyone on her team takes an unscientific view of equality, except for Calvin, a lonely and brilliant scientist who falls in love with Elizabeth's mind. When Elizabeth finds herself as a single mother and a star of the cooking show Supper at Six, her unusual approach to cooking not only teaches women to cook but to change the status quo.
After Everyone Else by Leslie Hooton ($13+)
Bailey married the love of her life, started a family, and runs a flourishing business. She's happier than ever, until her ex-husband is found murdered and her DNA is all over the crime scene. On top of the difficulties of marriage and parenting, Bailey must now prove her innocence, even though it seems that the people who should be on her side might be doubting her the most.
Woman of Light by Kali Fajardo-Anstine ($14+)
Blade Breaker by Victoria Aveyard ($13+)
In the sequel to Realm Breaker, Andry, Dom, Sorasa, Valtik, and Corayne must rally their divided world and conquer a seemingly unstoppable enemy. As they prepare to face the armies of Queen Erida and Taristan, they're also up against a deadly force that's waiting for them in the shadows.
A Hundred Other Girls by Iman Hariri-Kia ($7+)
Noora is tutoring rich kids on the Upper East Side and crashing on her sister's couch while she pursues a career in writing. Her dream is to write for her favorite magazine, Vinyl, and when she lands a job as editor-in-chief Loretta's assistant, Noora is finally on the right path...until she realizes that Loretta is a nightmare. It doesn't take long for Noora to find herself stuck between Loretta's print team and the misguided digital team.
All Good People Here by Ashley Flowers ($14+)
Just like everyone from her hometown, journalist Margot remembers the day that her next door neighbor January died. Margot has always been haunted by the thought that it could have been her instead of January, and the fact that the killer has never been found doesn't ease her mind. When she returns home to look after her uncle, news breaks of a disappearance similar to January's. Margot is determined to find out what's going on, no matter the cost.
The Magic of Lemon Drop Pie by Rachel Linden ($12+)
After her mother's death ten years ago, Lolly abandoned her dreams to help her family's diner stay afloat. Now, Lolly still pines for everything that she lost, even while making the diner's famous lemon meringue pies. When her great-aunt gives Lolly three lemon drops, each one allowing her to live a day in a life that might have been hers, she is finally able to realize that the key to transforming her life isn't in the past.
Something Wilder by Christina Lauren ($10+)
Even though Lily has no patience for treasure hunters, her circumstances have forced her to turn her father's hand-drawn maps into a tourist experience in Utah. When the man she once loved comes on a trip with his friends, Lily must put up with their antics, even if she'd rather leave them all in the canyons. When the trip does not go according to plan, the group discovers that the legend of hidden treasure might not just be a legend after all.
Other Newer Books To Read On Your Vacation
Crying in H Martby Michelle Zauner ($13+)
Indie rockstar Michelle Zauner from Japanese Breakfast chronicles her relationship with her mother growing up Korean American, their bond over food, and her journey back to parts of Korea that bring her closer to her mother, even after illness rips her away from Michelle and she must continue to forge her own identity without her. This is a precious, unflinching memoir that tackles so many robust themes, all in Michelle's fluid lyricism just as beautiful as in her music.
The Lockhart Womenby Mary Camarillo ($9+)
The Lockhart women in this family drama all have their own troubles: Brenda's husband has left her for an older woman, oldest daughter Peggy is having to settle for community college instead of university, and youngest daughter Allison's dreamy fling is leaving her with bruises. Through all of this, Brenda's growing obsession with the ongoing OJ Simpson trial and her daughters' obsessions with their own lives are doing anything but bringing them together. As addicting as the OJ trials were, The Lockhart Women is the perfect entertainment for the lulls in your vacation.
The Therapist by B. A. Paris ($14+)
Leo and Alice feel like they're in a dream with their newly renovated home in a lush, gated community. But when Alice starts to get to know her neighbors, she also learns of the therapist who lived in her home two years before. With a growing obsession, Alice starts to dig at who this therapist was, and what exactly happened. But her neighbors won't budge, and the more they hold onto their secrets, the more Alice starts to realize that their new home isn't as perfect as they thought.
Incense and Sensibility by Sonali Dev ($10+)
Yash Raje has always known how to get exactly what he wants, including becoming California's first Indian-American gubernatorial candidate, through his privileged background and "control your feelings and you control the world" mantra. But after a hate crime injures his friend and shakes his illusion, he needs help, fast. His family hires stress management coach, India Dashwood, who's handled overachievers like him before; but Yash's intensity and the two's shared past may just get in the way.
The One You're With by Lauren K. Denton ($12+)
Mac and Edie Swan are high-school sweethearts living "the good life" with great jobs, great kids, and a great home on a tree-lined street. But all of this is shaken when a young woman walks into Mac's office one day, and suddenly everything they've built is at risk. Nineteen years after one summer apart, what they thought they'd left in the past comes into their present, and together they must examine the choices they made years ago to save what they have now.
Island Queen by Vanessa Riley ($16+)
An epic adventure about a true survivor of slavery, power, and greedy men, we follow Doll from her life born into slavery, to buying her and her sister and mother's freedom, to building a legacy of wealth and power in a seemingly man's world. This story defies all the rigid norms of a Black woman living in the eighteenth century; Doll will inspire the modern-day woman with her determination, her strength, and her upheaval of limitations of race and sex.
Tell Me the Truth by Matthew Farrell ($8)
If you're looking for a juicy whodunit to make your travel times fly by, Matthew Farrell's got you covered. Eighteen-year-old Jenny Moore just wants to go to college to have a fresh start - but her family just can't let her go. When Jenny is brutally attacked and left to die, it's her mother who finds her body. Investigators are on it right away, and they immediately sense that something's off. When the clues start contradicting everyone's stories, readers will join the guessing game: was it the wealthy father? The disappointed mother? The jealous best friend? Better think fast, because the killer is just getting started.
Write My Name Across the Skyby Barbara O'Neal ($10+)
A tale spanning two generations of women, this one's got beach read written all over it. Gloria Rose's beautiful Upper West Side life begins to crumble when the FBI starts closing in on a crime she was involved years ago; Willow is licking her wounds from another failed album, relationship, and attempt to get out of the shadow of her singer-songwriter mother; and Sam is dangerously close to losing her video game company and man she loves to her unaccounted rage. To bring them closer to peace and to each other, they all must reconcile their entangled traumas.
Wild Women and the Blues by Denny S. Bryce ($8+)
Nearly a hundred years apart, these two stories of loss, forgiveness and love connect a chorus girl and a film student in unexpected ways. In 1925, Honoree was a sharecropper's daughter willing to do whatever it took to work and dance her way to the top of the jazz capital of the world: Chicago. Now 110, she finds film student Sawyer at her bedside, who rests all his hope on Honoree as the only living link to the legendary Oscar Micheaux who can bring him back from the brink of his loss and help him complete his thesis. But Honoree fills him in on blanks he wasn't expecting.
Riding High in April by Jackie Townsend ($10+)
Dreaming of travels to Asia but just couldn't make it happen this year? Jackie Townsend's got an escape planned for you. Far from Silicon Valley, a tech entrepreneur pursues his last-ditch effort to make greatness, something that Microsoft instead calls "reckless." In Seoul, Singapore, Japan, and India he works to save his reputation, his bank account, and his fifteen-year relationship with the love of his life, who meets him in Seoul to be with him - but she finds that Asia will reshape her in unexpected ways.
Anarchy in High Heels by Denise Larson ($8+)
Dreaming of Golden Gate Bridge? This memoir plops you into a San Francisco porno theater, which might just be the last place you'd expect a feminist troupe to sprout from. Nevertheless, this is the story of how Denise Larson went from timid actress wannabe to the leader of Les Nickelettes, a band of like-minded women striving to unlock their brazen satire and suppressed humor through feminist skits, stunts, and musical comedy plays. Next step: make travel plans to see one of these skits.
While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams ($3+)
Avery is doing a killer job as a law clerk for the legendary Justice Howard Wynn while dealing with her troubled family. But her juggling act gets complicated when the Justice has fallen into a coma - and left her in charge as his power of attorney. As she starts uncovering what he's left her, including secret research on one of the most controversial cases before the court, she begins to understand the dangerously related conspiracy that Wynn suspected... that she now holds in her hands.
The Guilt Trip by Sandie Jones ($10+)
Here's a destination wedding to vicariously read yourself into! Three couples, including five lifetime friends and the groom's new fiancée, arrive at a beautiful clifftop villa for what they think will be a weekend getaway to get to know the bride a bit better. But when one of the group discovers a shocking secret and the wedding weekend unravels, everything changes, and secrets begin to spill.
56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard ($11+)
A lot can happen during 56 days... especially during COVID times. Readers will be instantly pulled into a whirlwind as Ciara and Oliver's supermarket meet cute spirals into a murder mystery made even more confusing by lockdown. Will the truth be revealed, or is lockdown just the perfect setting for Oliver to hide who and what he is, and, maybe, hide a body as well?
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid ($10+)
Let's go to the west coast with this one! Nina Riva is throwing her annual end-of-summer party, and everyone wants to party with the legendary Rivas. But while some of the Rivas can't wait for the festivities, Nina just wants to be out of the spotlight. And as the party begins to get more out of control, they each must choose what they will keep from the people who made them, and what they will leave behind.
What are your favorite books to read? Do you always bring a couple of novels when you travel? Let us know on Instagram!
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This post has been updated.
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